You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2009.

I don’t think there is a better way to say it. I am taking a break for a week or so. I look forward to talking to you in 2010.

Merry Christmas!

Michael

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By Michael Baumann

It strikes me as odd that the website of a “Roman Catholic Mission” would post correspondence laden with hate, distortion, personal attacks and falsehoods.  The schismatic organization’s website is used as a launching pad for letters to officials of the Diocese of Harrisburg, editors and other individuals who have seen fit to have an opinion that differs from the lay leadership of the mission, especially, Dr. David M. Drew. Dr Drew signs his correspondence as the chairman of the mission. Dr. Drew has a particular penchant for declaring that his detractors have some deeply rooted psychological problem (although he is quick to state that he is not a psychologist or a psychiatrist) that keeps them from seeing the truth of his theological diatribes. He uses his mission’s website to belittle and dismiss while wrapping himself in the cloak of a defender of the one true Catholic Faith. If you want to read some of his rambling epistles may I recommend the following:

You get the point.  Other letters and articles are available for review if you have the time and inclination to sort through the combative and dismissive prose favored by Dr. Drew.  What I have found, and it seems especially true here,  is that the more shrill the messenger, the more lost the message.  That is as true of Dr Drew’s rants against anyone with an opinion contrary to his as it is with another leader of a congregation that embraces the practice of personal attacks to show its love of God and the compassion of its leaders.  The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka Kansas comes to mind. There seems to be a similar playbook in use. The fact remains that Dr. Drew has hired, for his “Mission”, at least two priests over the years who have been ordered to stop representing themselves as priests and have been prohibited from active ministry by the Diocese of Scranton because of credible allegations of deviant sexual misconduct.  The two priests are Father Marshall Roberts and Father Gabriel Tetherow.  Tetherow is still active at the “mission”.  While Dr. Drew is quick to attack me and others as being cowards and liars or declaring that we are suffering from deeply rooted psychological problems, he has no problem hiring deviant priests who have been kicked to the curb for their perverted activities. It is from these gutters that Chairman Drew recruits his clergy. Funny, Chairman Drew is quick to assail his detractors, but he is willing to allow predator priests to be in the company of his congregation’s children. I guess that speaks more to his values than any of the venom and vitriol he has spit onto the website of his Mission.  Perhaps people would be more sympathetic and supportive of the reasons for establishing this Mission if the message conveyed from the mission’s website was respectful, compassionate and solidly rooted in the faith that mission’s congregation seems to professes.  For now, the public face of the mission is one of intolerance.  I hope the members of the congregation take that negative public face into consideration when selecting their next chairman. Dr. Drew seems to feel that my problem is that I do not practice my faith.  Perhaps the problem is that he does not live his. I will let you know what else comes up, other people have taken an interest in looking into the workings of this organization and its sympathetic hiring practices towards pedophiles and fans of child pornography.

I received a letter in the mail not long ago from the “2009 Annual Campaign” for Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.  The campaign has a theme, “Celebrating Today… Preparing for Tomorrow”. As with all fundraisers, the letter came with a glossy brochure full of information on projects to be accomplished, scholarship assistance programs in need of support and the required breakdown of the recognition levels that accompany donations.  For only $10,000 you can have your name on the Cornerstone Society list!  (Act now!)

I understand that the school has requirements that exceed the money collected in tuition.   On the one hand, there are kids that need support to attend school and new computers always seem to be in short supply.  On the other hand, this was the place where I was singled out to be raped by my 8th grade religion teacher, Father Robert Gibson.  I was roughed up by the same priest in the chapel of this school and the nun that walked in on that event simply walked away.  This was the school where other students were targeted by other priests, either on the grounds or at events such as school retreats to the Fatima Center.  The documentation on the priests involved is pretty extensive.

In case you were wondering who the priests were, they are Father Robert Gibson, Father Peter Crynes (at the Fatima Retreat Center)  and Father Christopher Clay.  Those are the three priest who have been documented with histories of abuse and a connection to the school.  In the case of Peter Crynes, a reader who posted comments to this blog stated he was assaulted by Father Crynes at the Fatima Center.  Most recently, another priest who did some substitute teaching at Notre Dame Elementary School was charged with having child pornography on his computer. Father Robert Timchak is awaiting adjudication of his case in Pike County.  You can search for other predator, pedophile priests at Bishop Accountability.

My dilemma is this. do I simply shred the information on the fundraising campaign along with the request from Catholic Charities in Wilmington (How the hell did I get on that mailing list?) and be done with it?  Or do I write a letter explaining my reasons for not taking part in the fundraiser for the school?

I think it all comes down to one thing.  The Diocese has not been forthcoming with information on the predators it has long protected.  The Diocese and the parishes involved with the school have not actively sought out victims and tried to minister to there needs.  There has been no meaningful public acknowledgement of the damage done and the families torn apart.  There has been no acknowledgement of the faith destroyed and the trust lost.    There are, most likely, more of these monsters who are finding refuge in the secretive workings of the Chancery.  Until the Diocese of Scranton, the Catholic Church in the United States and the Holy See accept their responsibility and are held accountable for their role in the victimization of children and vulnerable adults, donors should decline any request for donations to any institution that is part of the Roman Catholic system.

Cut off the funding and the hierarchy will have to face the fact that they have forgotten their mission and have focused and all the earthly trappings that go with power, position and privilege in the Catholic Church.  If reforms are not implemented at all levels, the secrecy and the abuse that thrives inside that secrecy will continue.

If you are looking for a worthwhile organization to send your donation dollars, I recommend your local food bank.

I have arrived!  The wonderful folks at the Saints Peter and Paul Mission in York Pennsylvania have declared me to be a “Psychoblogger”! The schismatic church with a bent towards hiring priests involved in scandals involving sexual deviance with children is unhappy with me!.  Their current “priest” is Virgil Tetherow, who was convicted in relation to child pornography found at St. Ann’s Church in the Diocese of Scranton. He admitted to having child porn on his computer and pleaded out to lesser charges in a plea bargain.  You should check out the newspaper coverage or go to the court-house and read the material there. Despite their protestations to the contrary, Tetherow’s statements and his conviction are a matter of public record.

Another “Chaplain” at this mission was Father Marshall Roberts, a priest implicated in the Society of St. John child rape scandal. It seems that the people of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Mission like their priests a little on the kinky side, especially when it comes to underaged boys. The altar boys better be vigilant!

I seem to have raised the ire of a couple of the people involved with this cult-like organization that seems to have no problem attracting predators to their ultra-conservative brand of Catholicism. I guess they can’t be too discriminating when selecting a priest for their breakaway mission. It is not a problem that their priest likes looking at photos of naked boys, no big deal! Tetherow seems to be comfortable will the pre-Vatican II Latin rite and I am sure he likes the proximity to small children and parents that teach them that Father Gabriel is God’s representative on earth and needs to be obeyed unconditionally.

The first point of contact is with the author of the hit piece on me.  David Drew seems to be the desperate letter writer, frantically trying to clear the reputation of the child porn perusing priest at the mission. He completely ignores the facts of the case in which Father Tettherow acquired his criminal record, instead he attacks me personally. I understand Dave, your argument is so weak you have to go after me. I can live with that.

David Drew was kind enough to make several assumptions about my “personality disorders”. To quote his rambling prose:

Baumann sufferes from a severe personality disorder. His moral pretensions are transparent. He is a coward affecting the role of a man boldly confronting demons. For courage to be virtuous, it must be accompanied by both justice and prudence. Bauman has neither. He is a psychological criple from his own admission. I am not a psychiatrist but I did serve as medical officer in the U. S. Navy and was specifically trained to perform psychiatric evaluations, diagnoses, and referrals on naval personnel. Administering a MMPI to Mr. Baumann would not tell us anything new. But that is the least of his problems. He suffers from mortal sin from which he will not repent. He has lost the faith and he is losing his soul. I am not a priest, but this is self-evident to any Catholic.

I do like the way he makes sure that he tells people he is not a psychiatrist and he is not a priest. I get the feeling he is not a lot of things. Not only is he adept at long distance diagnosis, he can detect mortal sinners in a single bound. I somehow feel his sense of medical ethics may be a little slanted. Tell me Doctor Dave, do you offer all of your patients one stop psychiatric healing and mortal sin absolution at Hanover Hospital? I wonder how your bedside manner is with those patients who you deem unworthy?  For the record, Dr. Dave and I have never met and he has never done a proper medical assessment of me.  I will forward his letter to the hospital administrators to see if they agree with his assessment of my condition.

The other person who has been sending me subtle threats and accusing me of was Dave Romeo, the keeper of the “Ultimate Service Provider” website and the person who hired Father Tettherow to be the priest at Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission in York. Dave was quick to accuse me of slander, call me a coward (a theme that his buddy Dave Drew drew heavily upon in his open letter). Father Tettherow is listed as an ultimate service provide in the “Priest” category. He has claimed that he has investigated the claims against Tetherow and deemed them to be without merit. Well, thank goodness for that!  I wonder if the list is composed of members of the church?  Perhaps you have to pay a fee to become an Ultimate Service Provider.  I will need to look into that further!

I could end this post with some assumptions about the Daves, but I won’t. Why lower myself to their level? Instead I will offer this. If you have proof that your priest is not guilty of the crimes he was accused of committing, including the charge to which he pleaded guilty, I will gladly apologize to him for any comments I have made in this blog. If someone at the Diocese of Scranton set him up and you can prove it. I will happily publish that as well. I will even go to Scranton to publicly protest the mistreatment of anyone they have set up.  Somehow I think that officials of the  Diocese of Scranton lack the ability to pull off the framing of a priest.  There are so many discontented people within that organization that I have no doubt someone would have come forward with details of the conspiracy.

In the interim, I will be looking into the connection between the Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission in York, Pennsylvania and the priests that have been removed from ministry because of their sexually deviant behavior. I will also be getting copies documents connected with Tetherow’s run in with the law through the Freedom of Information Act. I may even detour through York on my way north for the holidays and sit in on services to watch the priest do his thing. It won’t be far off my route. Look around the congregation and if you see me, come over and say “hello”.  I really am a very nice person!

One last note, I do not have a problem with Catholics as you stated in your literary temper tantrum. I have a problem with the hierarchy that protects pedophiles. To me there is not a lot of difference between the ordinaries in their diocesan mansions and the outposts of conservative Catholicism that operate outside of diocesan rules when it comes to supporting predator priests. If you are giving quarter to a pedophile, you are fair game.   As long as these men support a potential threat to the children of the York community in the person of Virgil Tetherow (the guy goes by more than one name) the families of that community should be vigilant.  If there is an incident, people like Dave Drew and Dave Romeo should be held accountable for bringing the threat into the community.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was invited to participate in a discussion on the Report by Commission of Investigation into Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, also known as the “Murphy Report” for a radio talk show on NewsTalk in Ireland.   I was thrilled to be asked to be on and very happy to listen to a great discussion moderated by the host of The Wide Angle, Karen Coleman.  The focus of most of the conversation was on the other two guest during the hour-long segment.  Marie Collins and Father Thomas Doyle dominated the conversation, and rightly so. Marie Collins is a clear voice of the survivors’ movement in Ireland and her story is compelling and heartbreaking.  Father Doyle has paid a significant price for his steadfast support for survivors and campaign to bring the church around to correct the problem. Believe me, I was pretty nervous in the company of these two powerhouses, fearing that I would sound like the “American Idiot” on the radio waves of my family’s ancestral home. Of course, even at my most incoherent I think I would be more convincing than the bishops who claim ignorance of the law and actions of their subordinates.

I did prepare for the show by reading Section I of the Murphy Report and skimming through Section II.  (Cut me a little slack, the report is over 800 pages long.)   I reread a summary of the Ryan Report from last summer and I listened to a few  podcasts of the show.  Ms. Coleman, the presenter,  is no slouch!  She is a formidable interviewer who does not sound like she would tolerate a guest who was not prepared for the topic at hand.  After discussing the report and my nerves in advance of the show with my wife, she suggested I prepare some talking points and try to relax.

As I said in my last post, I think I was on air for about a minute, maybe less.   For the record I am not complaining about my short contribution, I actually thought it was pretty amusing.  Ms. Collins and Father Doyle were articulate and effective spokespersons for those of us who seek  the truth and a real change in the church.  I was happy to listen to both of them.  When the Podcast of that broadcast becomes available you will understand just how well they spoke on behalf of survivors.  The people I spoke with at “The Wide Angle” treated me very well and were very professional.  They did a great job producing a show on a very volatile subject.

I decided to put my talking points into a post, no sense in wasting them!   So here they are:

  • My heart breaks thinking about all the  thousands of victims of sexual crimes committed by the clergy.  While the numbers are horrific, they are, unfortunately  not a surprise.  I am still amazed that Catholics are surprised by findings in reports that reaffirm over and over that the church has done little to protect children. What reports like this bring into sharp relief is that there is a failure by people who could have chosen to do the right thing and chose, instead,  to do nothing.
  • I understand the physical, emotional and spiritual damage done by pedophile priests and compounded by a church hierarchy that empowered these predators through a culture of secrecy and deceit.  I grow more weary of listening to bishops lament about how shocked and saddened they are.  I am not buying it.  They knew, they have known all along.  For these men to claim ignorance of the acts of their subordinates or to claim that they did not know that sexual abuse/attacks/rape of children was a crime is insulting.  These men are as responsible as the predator for every child molested after the first “credible” report has been received and no action was taken.
  • It is still happening, we should not be talking about this problem in a historical context.  Not only are people coming forward to report abuse that occurred years ago, there are still children who are being put at risk or are actually suffering abuse by clergy.  While the church would love to declare an end to the scandal and try to put it behind them, they are still enabling predators to operate within their ranks because they still cling to an atmosphere of secrecy.  Abuse thrives in a culture of secrecy.
  • Sexual predators need to be identified and held accountable for their actions.  They should not live in relative comfort, being supported by funds donated by parishioners while the church takes no action to hold them accountable for their heinous actions.  The church needs to turn them over to the authorities.
  • Bishops and other church officials who have been actively involved in protecting and supporting these monsters need to be immediately removed from their positions.  Where it is appropriate and feasible, they should be prosecuted for obstructing justice and aiding and abetting the abuse of children and vulnerable adults.
  • The church is simply using a risk management strategy that has been proven to be a failure.  That strategy is based on secrecy, bullying victims and attacking anyone who challenges their authority.  As long as they are in a position of supporting lies and deception they are putting children and vulnerable adults at risk.
  • The hierarchy of  the church will not change until they are forced to pay a price so dear that they will have to stop the current practice of blaming victims and protecting predators.
  • Things will not change as long as parishioners continue to financially support the people who allowed this cancer to fester.
  • Civil authorities cannot abdicate their authority to protect children and vulnerable adults.  Police and the judiciary must conduct investigations into allegations of abuse. You would not allow organized crime to investigate itself.  Why give the church a pass?

I have some thoughts on the damage this causes to generations of the victims’ families, but that will be pretty personal and lengthy.  I will develop that as a separate post.

During the discussion of the Murphy Report, the silence from the Vatican has been deafening. Where is the Pope?  Where are the priests who are willing to stand up for their flocks?  Where are the parishioners?  When is it all going to end?

On Thanksgiving evening, full of turkey and stuffing, I sat down at my computer and found an email from a producer of a news show on NewsTalk-Ireland’s National Independent Talk Broadcaster.  They wanted to talk to me! I found the invitation intriguing for a number of reasons. First I am just a survivor blogging on the ongoing idiocy from the Catholic Hierarchy in dealing with the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the church. Secondly, I have never been a talking head, so this invitation was somewhat unexpected and a little intimidating. Finally, the vast majority of Americans trace their roots from other continents. I am of Irish decent. Don’t let my surname fool you, I come from a line of Kelly’s and O’Connell’s. It was pretty amazing to get emails and phone calls from Ireland that culminated in an appearance on the radio waves in Dublin.

Earlier in the week the “Murphy Report” had been released and the media in Ireland, as well as internationally, was buzzing about information contained in the report. The report focuses on the priests who abused children, the bishops that protected them and the failure of civil authorities to investigate and prosecute pedophiles.   The Gardai (the Irish National Police) take a beating in the report because, over and over again, they deferred to the church to deal with the problem of priests who committed these crimes. The report is horrific, but not all that surprising. After reading the document I am convinced that you could take the City of Dublin out of the document and insert the name of any diocese and have the finding still ring true.

The name of the radio show that offered the invitation is “The Wide Angle” hosted by Karen Coleman. It goes on the air in Dublin at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. The broadcast runs for three hours. Ireland is 5 hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States. The producer told me to expect a call early Sunday morning, the segment that I was going to be a part of was the second hour of the broadcast. The other guests on the program were Marie Collins, a survivor of abuse as a child and Father Tom Doyle.

So how did I end up on the guest list? As far as I can tell, the answer is Google. I saw a lot of search engine hits on my blog related to Father Doyle and the reports in Ireland. I am assuming the producers stumbled on me while researching the topic for the show. I have never been interviewed on the radio on this topic and I was a little apprehensive. I had started reading the Murphy report but lets face it, it was Thanksgiving weekend, I knew I was not going to get through the 700+ pages in a couple of days. I was a little nervous about what I was going to say and hoping I would not sound like an idiot.

The reality of my appearance on The Wide Angle was much different from what I had prepared for. Despite powering through Section I of the Murphy Report (about 170 pages), preparing talking points and discussing strategy with my wife while running errands I was unprepared for my moment, when it came.

The host, Karen Coleman, started the 11 o’clock hour (Dublin time) by giving an overview of the Murphy Report and interviewing Marie Collins. Ms. Collins was molested by a priest while in a hospital as a child in the ’60’s. I listened intently as she discussed the report with the host and related her own heartbreaking experience as a child. Next up was Father Thomas Doyle. Father Doyle is completely woven into the fabric of the survivors’ movement and has paid a personal price for his efforts on behalf of victims of abuse at the hands of clergy. Listening to him discussing the report and answering questions from an American perspective was like hearing the reassuring voice of reason. The clock was running during the conversation. I was so wrapped up in the broadcast that I almost forgot I was on hold, listening to all of this on my phone as the first light of day was coming over southern Virginia.

There were less 10 minutes left in the broadcast when the phone clicked and Karen came to ask me a question. I was almost startled to become part of the conversation to which I had been so intently listening. I had all my talking points and my blog open on my laptop. I wanted to say something that was not a reiteration of the other guests’ comments. I think I wanted to emphasize that the sexual abuse of children is not a thing of the past, that there are still children and vulnerable adults out there who were in danger. There are still predators out there that posed a real threat and there were bishops enabling these monsters by protecting them in order to avoid scandal. The news blogs are refreshed, on a daily basis, with stories of priests who are being arrested or investigated. I also pointed out that there have been cases in the U.S. of police and members of the judiciary that have deferred to the church to handle sexual abuse cases that should have been adjudicated in the courts. These people failed victims as badly as the church had done.

I think my elapsed time on the broadcast was about a minute!

And then it was over. Karen told me that someone would get back to me and bring me on a later show. I really don’t expect that to happen, although they were kind to offer. It was worth it to be on the line to listen to the conversation moving forward.

I want to thank Shona Murray, Eoghan McLaughlin, and Karen Coleman from “The Wide Angle” for including me in the conversation. I really did enjoy the experience. The show’s website has links to podcasts of previous broadcasts available. I am not sure when the podcast for the 29 November 2009 broadcast will be available to download. I plan on monitoring the website so I will let you know when it is available. I will also get my talking points cleaned up and post them with a link to the Murphy Report.

Copyright

This site is copyrighted by my statement.
Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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